Our “Other” Hobby…9.2017

Besides camping & hiking, Jill & I have always shared a love for reading.  So, when she phoned me a few weeks ago & asked if I wanted to take a quick trip to attend an authors’ event in the outskirts of Chicago, I said ‘YES!’.  Stephen King & his son have co-written a novel together & are on a book tour.  Jill loves his writing!  She doesn’t read his horror books, but some of his other novels & lots of articles he’s written.  I had only read one of his ‘other’ novels, so I quickly checked out a few & began my own Stephen King read-a-thon.  He is a good writer & I’ve not only enjoyed the books I’ve been reading of his, but also looking up trivia about the author.  Jill flies into KC, then we take off heading north.  No camping this trip, but she knows me, so we’re fitting in a little hiking & some good beer along the way…YAHOO!  As always, the thing I’m looking forward to the most, is spending time with Jill!

Day 1
We headed out early on a Thursday, about the same time as everyone else heading to work.  We wanted to avoid rush hour traffic & I’m not quite sure how we did it.  We made a couple of random turns off the highway & it seemed like two lane roads with corn fields on both sides for the next several hours!

Jill & I are obsessed with the T@B teardrop trailers.  She told me about them this summer on our Colorado trip & I discovered they were bought by the same company that owns one of the truck campers I’m obsessed with…same great, sleek, efficient & modern design.  Danny & I had looked at a T@B this summer.  Jill had been hunting the larger one, called the 400, for months.  So, since I knew we were going to take this trip, traveling through some different states, I’d been trying to locate  one so we could both look at it…neither one of us had seen the new 400 (they only began making them in 2017); I had been unsuccessful…no one seem to have these in stock.  So, as we’re out on some random corn-field enclosed roads, I  began researching (while Jill was driving) & managed to find a dealer about 3 miles off the road who had just gotten in two…yippee!  The guy was super nice & really informative & we spent about an hour looking at the new 400 & a couple of the smaller 320’s.  We were having a blast.  The big thing for Jill is—because she’s way closer to buying one than I am—can she be comfortable pulling it with her SUV.  We weren’t going to find that out today, but she was able to determine that Greg would like the 400 (Greg always likes bigger!) better than the tiny 320.  It was very, very cool!

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We probably talked trailers for the next couple of hours!  And, once I texted Greg photos of us ‘shopping’, he called right away to ask his own questions.  They’d been talking with a dealer down in Austin, who has one on order for this winter, Jill just needed to finalize her choice of exterior & interior colors.  I messaged the manufacturers to see what the only color we hadn’t seen actually looked like, & early the next morning we had a photo of a color patch!  That was the last piece of the puzzle…before another 24 hours was up, Greg had ordered the exact one Jill wanted!  Yay!  Now we both hope she can tow it comfortably!  

We continued passed all the cornfields until we came to Starved Rock State Park.  We’d planned to do a short hike here before dark, but the trailer-adventure delayed us.  We checked into the rustic lodge & then headed to get something to eat.  The weather was perfect for eating outside (my fave place to eat) & the food was good.

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Day 2
The next morning, we packed up & put on our low hikers & hit the trail.  Here are some views of the outside of the lodge & a couple of the wood carvings that were scattered throughout in front of the lodgethere were a bunch of carvings, which was pretty cool.

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We first did a short trail to Starved Rock…which Jill guessed right, that it was the rock we were standing on with a view along the river.  Here was a mock up of the Fort that once stood on top of this rock:

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The view from the top of Starved Rock.

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We then hit the Visitors Center to ask some questions.  This park is mostly known for it’s many waterfalls & has several short waterfall hikes.  I knew it wasn’t ‘waterfall season’ & that was confirmed as we entered the VC looking at a big sign that said “Due to a shortage of rain, there is NO water at any of the waterfall hikes”.  We asked the ranger which hike we should do, knowing we needed to leave by noon.  She suggested a 4 mile loop that took us down into a couple of canyons & to some viewpoints.  It was a nice hike on a beautiful morning & so much fun hiking with Jill!

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The day was warming up as we finished the hike & walked back to the car.  While Jill was changing into her sandals & I was putting on a short sleeved t-shirt, I noticed that a formerly mended rip in the crotch of my jeans had ripped out.  Cracking up about it, because we can always find things to laugh about, I also changed into another pair of pants…there’s an inside joke here, but that would be TMI.

We headed to Naperville where we’d see Stephen King & his son Owen speak tonight.  Of course, I found a brewery along the way to stop at & tried a few of their beers, but the best part was the Cidery we found, just across the parking lot.  Jill doesn’t drink beer, but we both shared a flight of ciders including a couple of cider-slushies.  The bartender was super nice & we loved our little stop here, the logo & our tiny tasting glasses we bought.

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Checking into our super modern cool boutique hotel (which I missed the photo op!), we showered & changed into our ’nice clothes’
& asked the guy at the hotel desk for a recommendation on where to eat.  Heaven on 7 was a Cajun restaurant about a 2 minute
walk from the hotel, so that’s where we went & enjoyed a yummy dinner! (Check out the wall of hot sauces!)

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The literature regarding tonights event, said not to line up before 5pm & doors would open at 5:30.  After dinner we walked the few blocks to the college campus where the event would be held, & arrived to find the line several blocks long!  But, at exactly 5:30, the line slowly started to move & we managed to get good seats.  This was his largest audience along his tour…I overheard someone say it was about 3,000 people…I have no idea if that’s accurate or not, but there were tons of happy fans.

The event was great!  Once Stephen & Owen took the stage, it was just the two of them & funny, interesting dialogue filled the evening.  It was Owen, the son, not Stephen the uber-famous author that took the lead.  The format was so awesome…they began by each reading for about 2 minutes from their new collaborative book, “Sleeping Beauties”.  Then they asked each other a few questions, asking new ones each night of their tour, so it never seemed canned, rehearsed or repetitive.  And they were funny! Owen pulled out a small old paperback copy of a book titled “Stephen King Trivia” & proceeded to ask his father some questions.  They took some questions that fans had sent in & the whole evening was so much fun & entertaining!

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We walked back through the campus to our hotel & tucked in for the night.

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